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The Savory Side of Sochi: Borscht

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When one now thinks of Sochi, Russia, one thinks of the current games of the 2014 Winter Olympics. This would be rather logical. Sochi, however, will also be the home to the XI Paralympics, the Russian Formula Grand Prix and then in 2018, one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Yes, Sochi is really starting to make a name for itself in the world of sports.

Sochi is a rather interesting city. Parts of the city hugs the Black Sea, which makes it a European sea port and quite known for its fresh seafood. Sochi also stretches into the Caucasus Mountains, and this area you will see when the Winter Olympics ventures into its Alpine and Nordic events. Interesting to note is the fact certain geography experts have an on-going debate of whether Sochi is a part of Eastern Europe or Southwestern Asia and the reason for this debate is the boundaries of the Caucasus Mountains. Regardless, it is in fact a part of Russia.

When it comes to the most classic soups in the culinary world, there may not be a more regal soup than the classic Russian Borscht. As the most elite athletes in the world are walking around Sochi and enjoying the native cuisine, one this is for certain and that thing is they will be offered Borscht.

So, what really is Borscht? In the most simple terms, it is a beet soup usually served chilled but often times also room temperature. The reason this soup is not served hot, as many other soups, is that the cooler temperatures bring out more of the abundant natural flavors and sweetness.

There are about as many versions of Borscht as there are athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics. This particular version is a little more hearty (as you can readily see by looking at the ingredients). This is truly the perfect winter soup to slurp while enjoying the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Ingredients needed to make Borscht (serves 4):

  • 1 beet, scrubbed
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Tbs. corn oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 ½ Tbs. tomato paste
  • 3 dried prunes, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. minced parsley
  • 3 Tbs. minced dill
  • sour cream for topping

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  2. Wrap the beet in foil and bake 1 hour. Remove from oven and unwrap. Peel the beet and then shred/grate it and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and tomatoes and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.
  4. In a medium sauté pan or skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and bell pepper and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook 7 minutes.
  5. Into the soup stir the onion mixture, beet, lemon juice, tomato paste, prunes, sugar, garlic, parsley and dill and cook 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from the pan from the heat and let cool 30 minutes (or if so inclined, chill the soup).
  7. Ladle the soup into serving bowls, top with sour cream and serve.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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